Students struggle, college supports during COVID learning

When COVID-19 forced Oklahoma City Community College to close its campus temporarily and to move all classes online, students, faculty and staff had been concerned for student success.

But OCCC has worked hard to ensure student retention and has gotten through the COVID struggles so far.

When all courses were forced online, faculty said they realized there were reasons to be concerned.

“While the college has excellent online content, students may misperceive about the time and effort online classes take,” English Professor Jennifer Jenson said,

“My main concern from the beginning of this transition has been my students’ well-being and their ability to continue succeeding at their academic goals despite the severe disruptions and stress-
ors that we are all facing,” she said.

Students struggle

Students said they experienced difficulties and were uncertain if they could finish the courses.

Some students dropped classes during the pandemic due to issues with the classes having to be online, Morgan Cusack, psychology, said.

“When I found out classes were going online, I panicked, and I got in touch with my adviser and let her know that I was not going to be completing the courses,” she said.

Cusack was not alone in how COVID-19 affected her learning.

Olivia Jones, community and public health, said she also faced hardships.

“I was struggling with classes and had to drop a class just because I knew it
would be a huge challenge for me doing it by myself without the face-to-face interaction,” Jones said.

Students able to not fail

Staff also said they understood the students were struggling but were hopeful.

“It had been stressful, but it seemed crucially important to remember that
we are not alone and that we can lean on each other for support and guidance,” Student Success Adviser Shara Hendricks said.

“COVID-19 has a mantra, ‘We will get through this together,’ and it rings true for OCCC,” Hendricks said.

“We can help each other to make life a little easier,” Hendricks said.

As a way to help alleviate the stress on struggling students, OCCC waived online fees during the summer 2020 semester.

“The livelihood and well being of our students remains our highest priority,” OCCC President Jerry Steward said.

Also, in an effort to help encourage students to complete their classes, OCCC gave a pass or no-pass grade option at the end of the spring 2020 semester. With this option, students who failed their classes or received a grade they didn’t like could earn a no-pass grade that wouldn’t affect their GPAs.

Jenson said although too many Americans have experienced devastating consequences attributed to the pandemic, students who are able to continue their studies still have opportunities to learn and excel.

“We can discover opportunities for positive growth, which inevitably come
after periods of change,” she said.

Jenson said OCCC has seen a positive in that enrollment numbers are higher for fall 2020 then expected. She said she heard that OCCC kept students enrolled and successful.